Re: Mutant swarms and copying fidelity

From: Kate Distin (
Date: Thu 05 May 2005 - 18:18:35 GMT

  • Next message: Kenneth Van Oost: "Re: perception vs reality"

    Bill Spight wrote:

    > Dear Kate,
    >> Actually here's a thought: physical skills are not transferable
    >> between people so they can't be memetic. You can share the
    >> information about best practice but you can't share the ability to
    >> put it into practice.
    > There is a difference between the ability and the skill. The skill
    > requires both the ability and the how-to knowledge.
    > Best,
    > Bill

    I'm not absolutely certain how you're using the words "ability" and
    "skill" here. Do you mean that in order to perform the task competently
    (have the skill) you'd need both the physical ability to perform it and the knowledge of how to go about it?

    If so, I agree. Where I was going with my suggestion (which is only that - a thought I had while composing the message) was that, while the how-to knowledge is a transmissible bit of information, the physical ability is not transmissible.

    I'm wondering whether, when we learn a complex skill like violin-playing or walling, there is both a social and an individual learning element to it. So there is information that can be shared about it (the how-to knowledge) and an ability that can only develop through individual practice. This is why, no matter how many books they may read, seminars they may attend or videos they may watch, some people will never be as skilled as others. Their individual learning potential (both innate ability and tendency to stick at it) is more limited so the results are less impressive.

    So maybe there are phenomena that we think of as being a part of culture
      (like dancing and playing music), which are actually not memes but individual responses to memes.

    Still thinking aloud here, really. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough whether it makes sense to anyone else!


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